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What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a natural mineral that was widely used as a building material in the UK between 1950's to the 1980's. As it is resistant to heat, fire, electricity, a good insulator and is very hard wearing, it was used for a variety of purposes.
There are 3 types of asbestos:
- Blue asbestos (crocidolite)
- Blue and brown asbestos (amosite)
- White asbestos (chrysotile)
The use of amosite and crocidolite began to be phased out in the 1969 when strict guidance was introduced to the industry, although neither were formally banned in the UK until 1st January 1986 with the introduction of Asbestos (Prohibitions) Regulations 1985, chrysotile was finally banned in the UK in 1999. Because of shelf life for certain products it can be established that any building built before 2000 may contain Asbestos.
- Places you may find Asbestos:
- Floor and ceiling tiles
- Pipe Insulation
- Corrugated cement sheets
- Eaves, gutters and rainwater pipes
- Roof slates and roofing tiles
- Roof and wall cladding
- Boiler flue
- Warm Air Units
- Water tanks and cisterns
- Textured 'Artex' ceilings
- Fire Doors
- Partition Walls
- Iron board pads
- Older electric fuses and fuse boards
Asbestos is often mixed with other materials so sometimes it is hard to know whether it is present or not. If you are unsure whether a material within your home contains asbestos, you should err on the side of caution and assume that it does.
For further information about where you may find Asbestos in the home please see the following links on the Health and Safety Executive website:
For more pictures of asbestos containing materials please visit the following link:
When is Asbestos harmful to health?
Asbestos does not harm your health if the materials are in good condition, undisturbed and not damaged.
Asbestos is made up of long thin fibres. As asbestos materials get older or become damaged, they may release fibres into the air. Most of these fibres are invisible to the naked eye. When a lot of these fibres are breathed in over a period of time they can cause lung disease, such as Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and Lung Cancer. There are no immediate effects and the diseases can take between 15 and 60 years to develop. These diseases are incurable and often fatal.
If Asbestos material is in good order and repair, it should not be removed unless necessary. If damaged it should be repaired and protected and only removed if repair is not possible or if the material is likely to be disturbed.
Asbestos can be removed by:
- Licensed Asbestos Contractor may remove all types of asbestos
- Builder may remove non-licensed types of asbestos only, for example asbestos cement
Licensed Asbestos Contractor
A contractor licensed by the Health and Safety Executive that has the necessary expertise and equipment to do the job safely must remove all types of asbestos other than asbestos cement.
A list of licensed contractors within your local area can be obtained from the Asbestos Removal Contractors Association on 01283 531126 or by accessing the following link:
For a list of all contractors licensed by the Health and Safety Executive, see the following link:
A builder or other similar contractor can remove most types of asbestos cement without requiring a licence or licensed persons. You must ensure that they will also arrange for proper uplift and disposal. This is a cheaper option for items such as corrugated roofing, roof slates and floor tiles.
It is strongly advised, to ensure removal is safe, that a builder is contracted to remove non-licensed asbestos materials. The following advice is given in good faith to help minimise the risk involved in the removal of small quantities of asbestos material and is not intended to be relied on as providing a safe system of work, therefore, the Council accepts no liability for any loss or damages caused.
The following simple precautions may be adopted if you need to carry out DIY on asbestos containing materials:
- Keep everyone out of the work area who does not need to be there.
- If drilling holes in asbestos boards, use hand tools rather than power tools.
- Thoroughly soak the material before starting work. You are advised to introduce a suitable wetting agent, e.g. washing-up liquid, into the water before saturation.
- Try not to cut or break off any parts of asbestos products put pieces in stout plastic sacks and seal or wrap in 1000 gauge polythene.
- You should not rub down asbestos panels, or Artex, with sandpaper.
- Do not use wallpaper scrapers on asbestos products unless for the removal of floor tiles.
- You should not remove asbestos panels to gain access to services unless necessary. If you do so, carefully undo fixing bolts, screws etc and remove panels complete shaving foam is also a recognised suppressant.
- Avoid breaking asbestos-containing material into small pieces, i.e. do not use hammers or drop materials from heights into refuse skips.
- Stack the removed sheets in the open and cover with plastic sheeting.
- Never sweep asbestos pieces use a vacuum cleaner that complies with BS 5145, known as type "H" (available from hire shops).
- If you have asbestos floor tiles or linoleum, it is best to leave them in place and lay any new flooring over them.
- Always work in well-ventilated areas.
- Persons handling asbestos should wear hooded disposable over-clothing and thoroughly wash exposed skin on completion of work. You are advised to hire from a reputable hire shop (see Yellow Pages telephone directory) a suitable dust mask specified for asbestos dust. FFP3 required
- In tact asbestos may be covered to make it safe, for example using paint, wallpaper or adhesive. However refrain from sanding or scraping the material before applying.
Should you decide to remove asbestos cement yourself, you should always contact a professional for advice before you start.
There are a number of information sheets available at the following link providing further advice and information about how to work on different types of non-licensed asbestos materials:
Aberdeen City Council tenants can contact Asset Policy (Housing) 01224 522996 should they have concerns about asbestos within their home. An asbestos survey and material sampling can then be carried out to determine the risk within the premises. Asbestos will then either be managed should it be in good condition or removed if it poses a risk to health.
Asbestos is the most serious work-related health problem in the UK. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 places a legal duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises in order to protect people within the workplace from the risks to health that exposure to asbestos causes. Businesses are required to carry out a risk assessment for the presence of asbestos within their premises and to keep a record of the location and its condition should it be present. This information must be made readily available to anyone carrying out work and liable to disturb these materials. Officers from the Environmental Health and Trading Standards Division are responsible for ensuring regulations are complied with.
Further information and advice on Asbestos is available on the Health and Safety Executive website.
The only charge for the Council's 0845 number will be your phone company's access charge.
- Environmental Health and Trading Standards
Communities, Housing and Infrastructure
Aberdeen City Council
Business Hub 15
Phone: 01224 523800
- Marischal College Customer Service Centre
Phone: 08456 080910 or 01224 522000